July 14, 2016

Wade and others' ESPY anti-violence video; plus Brady ban impact on Dolphins: My column with poll. Vote now!; also, grading 7 Marlins reps' All-Star performances, new MVP/Cy Young odds, Greg's Lobos news, latest 'Back In My Day' & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 14. See NBA stars' anti-violence video below, near end of this blogpost. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Strange fate of Heat's Big 3, mouth of Miko strikes again,UFC sells for $4B, history of Marlins in Home Run Derby, Ricky Williams/pot video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The latest 'Back In My Day': Click on Retail Desperation for our latest Back In My Day segment from Tuesday's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Link gets you to ESPN Radio podcast, and from there the new BIMD kicks in around the 1 hour 15 minute mark.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought 'em so great they deserved another look: The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, the latest, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical uncertainty with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our Sunday farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

New MVP, Cy Young odds for MLB, Fish: New today via Bovada, NL and AL MVP favorites are Kris Bryant at 11-4 and Mike Trout at 7-2, respectively. Cy Young leaders are Clayton Kershaw at 11-10 and Chris Sale at 4-5. For Marlins, Jose Fernandez is 12-1 (6th place) for Cy and Giancarlo Stanton 33-1 (9th) for MVP. 

New Dolphins column in wake of Brady news: Click on Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image for my new column, in wake of today's court ruling upholding Tom Brady's four-game suspension.

HOPE FOR DOLPHINS? BRADY 4-GAME SUSPENSION UPHELD: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lost big in court this Wednesday morning when his four-game Deflategate suspension was upheld Bradyupheldin New York by the 2nd. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling essentially is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers to suspend Brady for his role in the doctoring of footballs used in 2014-season playoff game vs. the Colts. It's a big victory for Goodell. It's also a win for AFC East rivals Miami, Buffalo and the New York Jets. Brady's final hope would be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Otherwise, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, not Brady, would start New England's first four games vs. the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans and Bills. Brady's season debut would then be in Week 5 vs.Cleveland. The Miami game Brady would miss is at New England. An oddsmaker buddy of mine told me this morning the Patriots still will be a decided favorite in the game, though likely now by around 6 points instead of around 9 points. Take a dip in our poll and tell us what best represents what you think will be the impact of Brady's suspension on the coming season. Not what you hope, but what you honestly believe. Then check back often to monitor evolving results.

GRADING MARLINS REPS' ALL-STAR BREAK PERFORMANCES: The Marlins had seven representatives at MLB's All-Star festivities in San Diego concluding last night. Grading them top to bottom:

StantonhrdGiancarlo Stanton: A+: I mean, he hit record 61 home runs to dominate Home Run Derby, including 20 of 21 longest dongs. He crushed it. Literally.

Marcell Ozuna: B: Started in CF at All-Star Game (because Yoenis Cespedes could not) and was 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Josh Naylor: B: Franchise's No. 2 prospect had two hits and an RBI as team's only representative in Futures Game.

Fernando Rodney: B: Pitched a neat, scoreless 2/3 inning with a strikeout.

A.J. Ramos: Inc.: Selected but did not appear in ASG.

Marlins Man: C-: Was relegated to the third row behind plate. And in first row was a man in a competing orange shirt. Oh the indignity!

Jose Fernandez: D: Sorry, Jose, but we always expect dominance. Gave up two hits and a run in 1 1/3 innings.

MIAMI HAD REASON TO WATCH ESPYS, AFTER ALL: The ESPYs were broadcast last night from Los Angeles, because ESPN doesn't get enough attention, and because there aren't enough awards shows. South Florida was close to bereft of nominees, save for Palm Beach's Serena Williams nominated (of course) for Best Female Tennis Player, one of 31 categories. Heat fans also saw the evening turn into the LeBron James Show, with him a winner for Best Male Athlete and Best Championship Performance. But! The show's highlight came at the beginning, when NBA friends LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul spoke out against gun violence and racial divide and exhorted fellow athletes to become involved as positive influences. Powerful stuff. Well said, and done. Video here:

 

Greg's Lobos earn $1,550 for charity: The ESPYs are a fundraiser for the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research, and one of the items up for bid this year, through ESPN Radio's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, was for my Greg's Lobos to be in your fantasy football league. Astonishingly, there were 113 bids in only a 24-hour window, and the winning bid was $1,550 by a charitable buyer in San Luis Obispo, Cal. Thank you. Look forward to hooking up for the draft. Go Lobos!

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

July 02, 2016

No way D-Wade really leaves the Heat ... right? Poll. Vote now!; plus Whiteside re-ups, Deng/Johnson depart; also, Dolphins playoff odds, Dan Jennings revisited, Mark Richt ranked, Greg Cote acting, your verdict on Heat getting Durant & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Wilfork1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 2. Happy new month all! And here's Vince Wilfork naked on the cover of a national magazine, for no good reason whatsoever that is readily discernible. 2) Campusrush.com has a long read here on the Ole Miss NCAA problem with a large dose of Laremy Tunsil, the Dolphins No. 1 draft pick implicated in some of the allegations. Recommended reading. 3) Congratulations to the Dolphins and the Dolphins Cancer Challenge for raising $5.06 million for cancer research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, bringing the event’s six-year total beyond $16 million. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat getting Kevin Durant poll, Euro '16 quarterfinals, Summitt/Ryan deaths, new Back In My Day, your next-champion verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat, the new one, on Wade's role as Miami nears NBA free agency. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has, on Heat's imperative to keep Whiteside as it dreams of Duran. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Still no love for poor Dolphins: New betting odds out today from Bovada on each NFL team's chances of making the playoffs, and Dolphins are 9-4 against, ranking 23rd. Miami also is last in AFC East by that gauge, with Patriots tied for first overall at 1-5 for, and Bills and Jets tied for 19th at 2-1 against.

HassanWHITESIDE STAYS WITH HEAT; DENG, JOHNSON DEPART: [Update: Luol Deng signs with Lakers, Joe Johnson with Jazz. Neither departure a surprise]. Original post: It's 2016 and so, naturally, the news that Hassan Whiteside will stay and re-sign with the Miami Heat came not via traditional media but on his Snapchat account, where he wrote simply, "#HeatNation it is." And in a brief, first-person bugling on the Rileygodfather
playerstribune.com that read:" I've p
layed on eight teams since college — from Reno to Sioux Falls to Sichuan, China. I am not ready for there to be a ninth. I have decided to re-sign with Miami. I just wanted to take this time to tell all the fans how much you mean to this team, and to me. Can’t wait to get back to work and try to bring another championship to Miami. #HeatNation." His Miami deal reportedly will be for four years and $98 million, max money. So much for all the speculation about the Heat not considering him max-dollars-worthy. Let's file that in the same garbage bin as last night's faulty reporting/speculation (reportulation?) across the Internet that Dallas and Mark Cuban had claimed the inside lane on Whiteside and that the Heat were "losing ground." Pat Riley wins again! Or, does he? The Heat just spent more than it wanted to, more than it thought the player was worth, to meet the market and keep Whiteside. Riley must now make spending all of that salary-cap dough on Whiteside jibe with how to also lure the whale Kevin Durant (they meet Sunday) and, hopefully, re-sign Dwyane Wade, too. Can it all work? Surely Whiteside's commitment makes Miami more attractive to Durant, but now all of the dollars must fit. Buckle up, kids. The ride has just begun.  

DwadeNO WAY DWYANE WADE MIGHT ACTUALLY LEAVE THE HEAT ... RIGHT?: Can the Heat beat tall odds and boat the whale Kevin Durant? Would they pay big to hang onto Hassan Whiteside? Those were two main questions as Miami entered NBA free agency at midnight Thursday, Whiteside answered with a resounding yes and Durant still TBD. But Dwyane Wade's future is right there next on the offseason marquee. I cannot envision Wade leaving the Heat after 13 seasons here. I doubt it'll happen. But the possibility cannot be discounted. He is reportedly talking with four teams and being offered a max contract by the Knicks and Bucks. If the Heat is hardballing/lowballing Wade to accept, say, $8-10 million for one year and some other team is offering double that, well, pride more than money could drive Wade's decision. That's the topic of my latest column; click on Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat to read. I'm curious what you see as the likelihood Wade might actually leave. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: Low bar on Heat's chances with Durant: We asked you the realistic likelihood of Heat landing free-agent "whale" Kevin Durant, and a plurality of 42.5 percent put the chance at less than 10 percent. Then it was 16.7% at 20-29, 15.0% at 10-19, 9.8% at 30-39, 9.4% at 50-plus, and 6.7% at 40-49. That isn't much optimism, but there was some hope, with more than 25 percent giving Miami at least a one in three shot.

DAN JENNINGS ON MARLINS' CONTENTION: "I FULLY EXPECTED IT": Former manager Dan Jennings reached out to me after this week's column on how the 2016 Marlins have earned support no matter the animus against owner Jeffrey Loria. (Miami has lost two straight but remains on playoff pace). I wrote that the club's promotion of the general manager Jennings to Djenningsmanager after Mike Redmond was fired last year was an embarrassment and made the Marlins a laughingstock -- all true. But Jennings (pictured) wanted to make clear it wasn't his idea; that Loria's decision shocked him as much as anybody. Noted. What I wrote put that burden on the decision to promote a man who hadn't managed since high school; it was never on Jennings. Anyway, Jennings also wanted to note the '15 team ended on an the upbeat, finishing on a 19-12 run. I'd also mention (he didn't) that the winning percentage ended up better under Jennings (.444) than it had been under Redmond (.421). That doesn't justify Loria's nutty decision, but it verifies Jennings at least made the most of the tough spot he was put in. Last Oct. 3, after a doubleheader sweep of the Phillies on the next-to-last day of the season, players and staff gathered in a Philadelphia hotel ballroom for a year-end party and two prominent Marlins players stood up to speak in praise of Jennings and hope for his return. (I first heard this from a player, not from Jennings). By the end, Jennings had gradually won the respect of players who'd been very dubious and initially angry over the move. Much of the respect he earned was in playing Marcell Ozuna over the wishes of Loria, which played a part (I presume) in Jennings' eventual dismissal. Jennings is now assistant to the GM with the rival Washington Nationals but a piece of his heart remains in Miami. "Other than 19 times a year [when the two teams meet] I'm pulling for those guys," Jennings said of the Marlins. By late summer last year he'd sensed a young team jelling, and says of this year's turnaround, "I fully expected it." Bottom line: The Marlins promoting a GM to a manager's job he hadn't done since high school will forever be fair play when folks are lining up odd moves by Loria. But Jennings did the best he could, and, as it turned out, that wasn't bad.

RichtCANES' RICHT RANKED NO. 16 OF ALL FBS COACHES: There are 128 FBS (nee Division 1A) college football coaches. Miami's Mark Richt (pictured) is 16th in a new ranking by AthlonSports.com, which, to its credit, predates the internet in its coverage of college football. The predictable, usual suspects (Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh) are 1-2-3. Also of note, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher is ranked 7th and Florida's Jim McElwain 30th. FIU's Ron Turner (112th) and FAU's Charlie Partridge (113th) are lowly-rated, but there are positive signs for each. Turner's Panthers improved to 5-7 last year from 1-11 two seasons earlier, and Partridge's Owls, though 3-9 in both his seasons, seem on the ascent due to a foundation of solid recruiting. Oh, and Kirby Smart, who replaced Richt at Georgia, is ranked 54th.

GregcoteactorGREG COTE, THESPIAN: From today's Houston Chronicle review of the play "Ten Ways On a Gun" at the Landing Theatre: "Greg Cote is irresistible as Benji Kugel, a midlevel-manager type on the rise in the world of corporate rip-offs. In one sequence, the possession of the gun sends Cote into a dreamlike delirium. He sent the audience into stitches as he sang, danced and gesticulated to Rupert Holmes' "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" while his castmates danced in Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts and coconut bras." Always weird when another Greg Cote, this one evidently a Houston-area actor, shows up in the news. We Greg Cotes are not as common as John Smiths, so it's fun to hear of another of any prominence. My alter-ego the actor is pictured.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

June 01, 2016

PGA Tour leaving Miami, Doral; plus Cavaliers-Warriors. Who'll win? Who do you hope does? 2 polls. Vote!; also, new 'Back In My Day,' Jim Morris' challenge, Ryan Tannehill's dubious distinction & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1. Happy new month, all! Summer time, and the livin' is humid. 2) Congrats to Richard Bleier from South Plantation High. Made his MLB debut at 29 with Yankees on Monday night and faced two batters with two groundouts. Perfect! 3) I'm already tired of hearing about Dion Jordan and his comeback, and Dolfans should be, too. Show us, don't tell us. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): SoFla sports figures most under pressure with poll, Hot Button Top 10, Memorial Day, long climb of Richard Bleier, extraordinary life of Charley Winner, your Super Bowl turf wars verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The latest 'Back In My Day': Click here for yesterday's LeBatard Show podcast that includes my latest 'Back In May Day' segment, on the devaluation of championship rings. I think it kicks in at around the 1 hour 19 minute mark.

The Last 4: My four most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, the new one, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure. The Long and Extraordinary Life of Charley Winner, catching up with the longtime former Dolphins executive.

Canes host NCAA Regional starting Friday: Click on Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations for my latest column as coach Jim Morris and the nationally fourth-ranked Miami Hurricanes prepare to host this week's NCAA Regional that also includes FAU, Long Beach State and Stetson.

DoralBREAKING NEWS: PGA TOUR DUMPS DORAL, LEAVES MIAMI: [Click on Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce for my new column, now online]. More than a half century of history is finished. The PGA Tour's annual stop at Doral is moving to -- of all places -- Mexico City. It was Donald Trump, owner of Trump National Doral, who first put the event's future in doubt last year with his controversial political stances including disparaging remarks against Mexicans. The World Golf Championships event officially is South Florida because it could not find a title sponsor to replace departing Cadillac. But Trump's involvement surely plays a role. Trump himself broke the news on Fox's Sean Hannity show Tuesday night, leveraging the move an another example of America losing jobs to foreign countries. "They’re moving it to Mexico City which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance," said Trump. The PGA Tour had warned in December that it would explore all options on the event's future after Trump’s remarks about Mexicans and Muslims.

NbafinalsLEBRON VS. STEPH. CAVALIERS VS. WARRIORS: WHO YOU LIKE? WHO YOU WANT?:  I like these head vs. heart polls because sometimes we vote differently with each, right? With the Cleveland-Golden State rematch in the NBA Finals that begins Thursday night, your head has a favorite -- the team you'd bet to win straight-up if handed a hundred bucks. But who you want to win may be different because your heart is talking. Miami Heat fans may be especially conflicted. There may be a natural inclination to hope Golden State wins as an anti-LeBron vote. But didn't Stephen A. Smith report that LeBron may be agreeable to return to Miami if he delivers this title to Cleveland? Put it all in the blender and vote separately who you think will win and who you want to win. And check back often to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: It's Tannehill in a landslide for local figure under most pressure: We asked which South Florida sports figure is under the most pressure, gave you 12 choices and three votes, and your landlside winner was Ryan Tannehill with 31.7 percent. The maximum would be 33.3% if every voter cast all three votes, meaning just about everybody included the Dolphins quarterback. Rounding out your top five: Giancarlo Stanton 13.2%, Mark Richt 12.7%, Chris Bosh 10.7% and Ndamukong Suh 8.9%.

THE LIST: MIAMI HURRICANES BASEBALL CHAMPIONS: With this week's NCAA Regional here UM sets out seeking its fifth national championship. The roll call:

Year    Record     Coach            CWS MVP

1982   55-17-1    Ron Fraser     Miami P Dan Smith    

1985   64-16       Ron Fraser     Miami DH Greg Ellena     

1999   50-13       Jim Morris     FSU 2B Marshall McDougall

2001   53-12       Jim Morris     Miami OF Charlton Jimerson

Note: Though Miami won a CWS in which one of its players was not MVP (1999), UM also had one CWS MVP in a year it did not win the title: OF Pat Burrell in 1996.

 Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 18, 2016

Big change coming to LeBatard Show; plus will Chris Bosh ever play again for Miami Heat? New poll. Vote now!; also, it's Pat Riley season, your verdict on Heat's year & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 17. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Game 7 with was-season-a-success poll, Hot Button Top 10, history of Heat G7s list, your NBA favorite verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: It's Pat Riley Season!, the latest, on Heat's looming offseason move. Small Ball, Big Win, off Heat Game 6 home win. Heat is America's Underdog, on how injuries and obstacles cast Miami in an unaccustomed role.

DanshowCHANGE COMING TO LEBATARD SHOW: What we first reported exclusively in our blog here yesterday has been confirmed this morning on the air: A change coming to the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz will affect how the top-rated radio show looks on television and where you can see it. The show airs weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, with the three-hour national show also simulcast on TV. But today's/Wednesday's show be the last to air on Fusion TV (that contract is expiring) and also the last to utilize the current larger television studio and look. Beginning in June (target date is June 6 but that isn't firm), the show will be televised solely on ESPNU from the smaller radio studio previously used only for the local hour. Both studios are adjacent on the second floor of the Clevelander hotel on South Beach. The LeBatard Show show will be radio-only from Thursday until it returns to TV in the redesigned smaller studio in June.

ON CHRIS BOSH'S MURKY FUTURE WITH THE HEAT: The uncertainty and mystery took another turn late yesterday with the latest questionable and questioned report by ESPN's Brian Windhorst, Boshwho said on the Mike & Mike radio show that Miami Heat doctors may never clear Bosh to play again and that he could end up as a forced "medical retirement" on account of the issue with blood clots that has now shortened his past two seasons. Windhorst wrote a column saying, "There is a fear within the Heat organization that Bosh's condition will prevent him from ever being cleared to play by team doctors, several sources said." (Full column here). However, most local media closer to the team than Windhorst believe the Heat remains hopeful Bosh will be cleared to resume his career next season. It was just a week or so ago when Windhorst reported of friction between Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic -- something vehemently denied by all concerned in Miami. None of us can know for sure about Bosh; how can we when neither the club nor player ever seem to be certain or in agreement. Click on It's Pat Riley Season! for my latest column, in which I explore how Bosh 's uncertain future weighs on everything -- including the team's planned pursuit fo Kevin Durant in free agency this summer. We all wish the best for Bosh, of course. But what is your expectation on how the Bosh saga will turn out? Please vote in this poll how you believe it will play out, what you'd bet on, not what you hope happens.

Poll result: Unequivocally, Heat season was a success: We asked you if the Heat season just-ended was successful, and by a better than 5-1 margin you answered yes (80.9 perecent) over no (14.6%), with the other 4.5% undecided. The overwhelming positivity is all the more impressive because of the timing, with the poll first out just minutes after Sunday's Game 7 loss in Toronto.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 10, 2016

G4: Heat 94, Toronto 87: Wade rescues Miami, ties series as Heat climb uphill to become 'America's Underdog'; plus Radio Tuesday, latest Hot Button Top 10, Wade dethrones Marino & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 10. Hope you made it a happy Mother's Day! I was missing my own mother this year but so thankful for the wonderful mom of my two sons! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Game 3 despite Wade's 38, Marino vs. Wade poll, Tunsil channels Kooch, history of Heat OT playoff games & more. 3) Heat's Pat Riley ties for 8th in NBA executive of year voting won by Spurs' R.C. Buford. 4) ESPN announces Sean McDonough will replace Mike Tirico in its  Monday Night Football booth. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and simulcasting on Fusion TV and ESPNU.

We'll have a brand new blogpost coming later today, post radio show. A college professor once insisted to me "brand new" was redundant. I never learn. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Be Careful What You Wish For, the latest, from last night's Heat Game 4 home win. Wade: A Little Help, Please?, off the Game 3 home loss. Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend.

G4: HEAT 94, TORONTO 87 (OT): WADE'S 30 CARRIES MIAMI TO 2-2 SERIES TIE AS HEAT BECOME AMERICA'S UNDERDOG: One-man-show Dwyane Wade hit 30 points as Miami escaped at home last night to tie this series 2-2 as it heads back to Toronto for Game 5 Wednesday night. Raptors still own the home-court edge and Heat must find a way to win at least one of two games in Toronto to advance and earn the dubious right to face a rested, hot LeBron and Cleveland in the next round. Be careful what you wish for, Miami. Click on Be Careful What You Wish For for my column from the Game 4 victory. What do I mean by "America's Underdogs"? Miami, already without Chris Bosh, loses Hassan Whiteside to a knee injury. They remain underdogs to survive Toronto. They would then be monumental underdogs vs. Cleveland. They would then be even greater longshots vs. (presumably) Golden State. The Miami Heat: America's Underdogs! ..... Original post: Canadian fans  are upset that Dwyane Wade kept into his warmup routine before Game 3 and was still taking shots during the start of O Canada. Heat fans are thinking, "If it helps him score 38 again, he can shoot through both national anthems." Of course
Heatrapsg4the fact Miami lost despite his 38 is why the home team is under the pressure it is tonight, trailing 2-1 in the series. Another loss would put Miami in the awful position of needing to win three G4straight games, two of them in Toronto. Even a win to level the series leaves the Heat still needing to figure a way to win one up in We The North territory. Both teams are now scrambling to replace their big men, with Miami's Hassan Whiteside (knee) officially "day to day" but ruled out for tonight and Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) out the rest of the series. Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri called the latter a "big, big, big, big, big blow for us." That's five bigs. Heat playing sans Whiteside is comparably big. Which coach and roster adjust best moving forward should be the team that takes the series and advances to meet a very rested LeBron James in the Eastern finals. Said Wade on Sunday: "It isn't always about who's the best team. It's about who's the healthiest team. It'll be a different game for us with Hassan out, but we have to figure out a game that's successful for us." I'd expect veteran Udonis Haslem to get most of Whiteside's minutes, with help from Josh McRoberts and Amar'e Stoudemire. The erasure of the two starting centers could be a bigger blow to the Raptors, as Valanciunas had generally outplayed Whiteside in this series, with a double-double in all three games. Toronto has been plus-41 (in scoring) with Valanciunas on the floor in the series; Miami has been plus-39 when he is on the bench. The Whiteside factor has been closer to negligible in terms of +/-, with Miami minus-7 with him in the game and plus-5 without him.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Wade the hero again as Miami wins Game 4, ties series: Dwyane Wade scores 30 points last night one game after scoring 38, and all at once Miami is tied 2-2 as the series heads back to Toronto for Game 5 Wednesday night. With Bosh already out, Hassan Whiteside now out, too, and Miami still the underdog againt Toronto, facing longer odds vs. Cleveland, then an impossible longshot vs. (likely) Golden State, the Heat has become America's Underdog. (Click on Be Careful What You Wish For for my column off the Game 4 overtime home win).

2. MARLINS: Hot Fish back on winning track as homestand continues: Marlins have now won 12 of their past 15 games after beating Milwaukee last night behind Jose Fernandez as nine-game homestand continues with two more vs. Brewers. Much more of this winning and contending and Jeffrey Loria may have little choice but to open the wallet and bolster the roster, especially the starting rotation. Two words: Tim Lincecum.

3. DOLPHINS: Fins re-sign Wake, conclude unusual rookie mini-camp on Sunday: Team signed Cam Wake to a two-year, $15 million extension. Meanwhile, Miami wrapped up a three-day rookie mini-camp. It was classroom stuff only, no uniforms or practices. So we’ll have to wait awhile longer to see No. 1 draft pick Laremy Tunsil behind a gas mask. Oops. Sorry! Freudian slip. I meant a facemask.

4. HORSE RACING: Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby as gates open on Triple Crown season: Nyquist showed why he was the betting favorite in Saturday’s 142nd Kentucky Derby. Still, most thoroughbred experts predict we likely won’t be seeing an end this year to the Triple Crown drought stretching all the way back to 2015.

5. NBA: LeBron's Cavs are first team through to conference finals: Cleveland completed a 4-0 sweep of the Hawks in Atlanta Sunday to become the first team through to the conference finals, with every other series competitive. Doubt him or not, LeBron is still LeBron. And now rested, too.

6. PANTHERS: Cats out of playoffs but still in news with Jagr, coach: As playoffs continued sans Florida -- Tampa Bay on Sunday became first team through to conference finals -- Panthers’ Gerard Gallant was named a coach of year finalist and Cats re-signed Jaromir Jagr for another year. I don’t wanna say Jagr is old, but he skied as an NHL rookie because ice hadn’t been invented yet.

7. DON SHULA: Coaching legend hospitalized but released: When you're 86, any health issue can be worrisome. It is reasonable more than macabre to wonder if Shula will live to see his Dolphins in another Super Bowl. That's reality, the tenuous state of the franchise.

8. SOCCER: Beckham stadium talks with Miami-Dade hit a snag: Took forever to find a site and settle on what was not his preference. Now there are more delays. I am beginning to wonder if David Beckham, 41, will ever live to see his dream of Major League Soccer in Miami come to fruition.

9. HURRICANES: Richt rallies the troops at fan meetings: New Canes football coach Mark Richt has been speaking to Hurricane Club rallies. At one he mentioned he wasn't big on players' demonstrative "swagger," saying, "If you want to dance, go to the club." Cannot confirm he quickly added: "But while you're at the club, don't drink, get in trouble or stay out too late!"

10. DION JORDAN: Dolphins draft bust seeks comeback: You could argue Miami trading up to third overall for Jordan in 2013 was among worst draft decisions in club history. With that in mind, I Googled the phrase "vested interest" and saw that Jordan's agent and trainer were predicting he'd be NFL comeback player of the year this season.

Missing the cut: Leicester City won the first EPL championship in its history against 5,000-to-1 odds. Coincidentally, those were the same odds against the Dolphins' No. 1 selection being pictured draft-night wearing a bong gas mask ..... Marlins' May 30-31 games vs. Pirates will not be played Puerto Rico as scheduled because of threat of Zika virus there. Instead the games will be played at Marlins Park, because of course we have no mosquitos in South Florida (!) ..... Phoenix Coyotes made John Chayka, 26, the youngest GM in NHL history. Chayka immediately traded a future first-round draft pick for four killer tickets to Pearl Jam ..... Canelo Alvarez beat Amir Khan in Vegas and I can't even fake interest ..... Yes, Pablo Sandoval played only three games for the Red Sox and was 0-for-6 before season-ending surgery. However, in that short time he did lead all AL batters in second helpings ..... Joe Paterno reportedly knew as early as the 1970s of Jerry Sandusky's pedophilia. R.I.P., Joe Pa. (Rest In Pieces).

Poll result: Wade dethrones Marino: It had to happen eventually. We asked who had the greater career for Miami, and it was the Heat's Dwyane Wade soundly defeating the Dolphin's Dan Marino by 49.8 percent to 37.6%. Another 10.6% voted "can't decide or too close to call," while 2.0% voted "someone else."

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 07, 2016

G3: Toronto 95, Heat 91: Wade scores 38 for naught, Whiteside hurt; plus who had greater career, Marino or Wade? Poll. Vote now!; also, 'Greg Cote Show' T-shirts, Dolphins' Tunsil channels Kooch, history of Heat overtime playoff games & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Myshirt1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 7. LeBatard Show fans, the 'Greg Cote Show' T-shirts are in, the one shown modeled by the great Roy Bellamy. We'll be giving some away to listeners. Stay tuned. 2) My fellow fellas, don't forget tomorrow is Mother's Day! Do it up right. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat fall in Game 2 OT to even Toronto series, sitting Bosh smart beyond health reasons, Miami in '17 NFL Mock Draft, Jose & Giancarlo Show, re-appreciation of Shula, disrespecting Richt, Dolphins cheerleaders & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, the latest, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend. Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, previewing Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory

G3: TORONTO 95, HEAT 91: WADE HITS 38 BUT WHITESIDE HURT IN HOME LOSS THAT HAS MIAMI DOWN 2-1 IN SERIES: Dwyane Wade was vintage with 38 points including 18 in the third quarter but Miami let a late lead slip for the second straight game in a 95-91 Saturday home loss that gives Toronto a 2-1 series lead entering Game 4 back downtown Monday night. Wade led the team in scoring, rebounds and assists, with nobody else topping 12 points. The lack of help for Wade was accentuated by Hassan Whiteside's knee injury early in the second quarter, from which he did not return. An MRI Sunday will provide details, but early indications were that he could miss the rest of the series. That would mean Erik Spoelstra must cobble together a combination of Udonis Haslem, Josh McRoberts and Amar'e Stoudemire to handle the center position. Click on Wade: A Little Help, Please? for my column from last night's loss. ..... Original post: Key No. 1--Turnovers. Miami has had 20 in Game 1 and 21 in Game 2. That is uncharacteristic carelessness by the disciplined, well-coached Heat. "If we don't turn the ball over 20-some times, we'll be fine," as the Heat's Dwyane Wade put it. "Our offense is fine. But we can't keep giving G3
Raptorsheatup 20 turnovers a game. That limits us." That TO number needs to be cut in half with today's 5 p.m. tipoff. Key No. 2--Hassan Whiteside's defensive work on Toronto's 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas. It hasn't been there. It needs to show up. Valanciunas has averaged 19.5 points on 68 percent shooting in the two games and also averaged 13 rebounds. Whiteside has averaged 11 points in the two games, and the Heat need more from him on both ends of the floor -- a game that reminds all why he thinks he should be a max-contract player this summer. Miami blew a 7-point fourth quarter lead in Game 2 and a chance to take a commanding 2-0 series lead back to Miami. Now, at 1-1, the pressure will fall squarely on tonight's loser. Toronto is counting on guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (shooting a combined 35% in the two games) to regain their touch. Even if that occurs, the home court should lift Miami. Heat are on a 13-2 run at home and has topped 100 points in 18 of last 19 game in the bayside arena. The home court, fewer turnovers and more Whiteside will carry Miami no matter how much the Raptors' guards raise their game.

Dandwyane MarinowadeTHE ULTIMATE MIAMI SPORTS QUESTION: MARINO OR WADE?: Who has had the greatest career in the history of South Florida professional team sports? Is it quarterback Dan Marino with his record-setting 17-year Dolphins run from 1983-99? Or is it guard Dwyane Wade with his championship-winning 13-year (and counting) run for the Heat from 2003 to right now? For me it's clearly one of those two, but our poll also includes a "someone else" category -- although I'd like to hear the argument for anyone but Marino or Wade, who are listed alphabetically in the poll. We ran a similar poll last summer so we'll be interested to see how the results differ. The question is bigger than whether football or basketball is your favorite sport. The question also is broader than just statistical greatness or titles won. Maybe it's which athlete and person is held more dearly in our collective hearts. Maybe it's who is more beloved in South Florida. By however you define "greatest career," cast your vote and say why. Then check back often for continually evolving results.

TUNSIL CHANNELS HIS INNER KOOCH: Dolphins yesterday signed No. 1 draft pick Laremy Tunsil to a four-year contract. That's early for a top pick to sign, and good news. Team also announced that Tunsil would wear uniform No. 67. Sound familiar? Nine other Fins before him have worn that number but only one of any note: Bob Kuechenberg, who from 1970-84 played more games as an offensive lineman than any player in club history in a distinguished career. "Kooch" was a guard who also played tackle. Tunsil is a tackle who'll probable start out at guard. So their numbers will be the same. If their careers turn out to be anything close, the Fins will have just made an excellent draft decision. Now let's see about that.

THE LIST: HEAT PLAYOFF OVERTIME GAMES: This week marked only second time in franchise history the Heat has played two overtime games in same playoff series, and the first time OTs have been in back to back games. Quirky fact: Dwyane Wade has played in 10 of 11 all-time overtime games but been team's leading scorer only once. The history of Heat overtime playoff games, chronologically: 

Date        Result             Opponent      Round            Heat leading scorer

5-12-00   W 77-76         @Knicks       Conf semis     Mourning 23

4-28-05   W 108-105*    @Nets          First round      O'Neal 25

6-18-06   W 101-100     Mavericks     Finals             Wade 43

5-9-11     W 98-90        @Celtics       Conf semis      James 35

5-24-11   W 101-93      Bulls             Conf finals      James 35

5-30-12   W 115-111    Celtics          Conf finals      James 34

6-3-12     L 93-91        @Celtics       Conf finals       James 29

5-22-13   W 103-102    Pacers          Conf finals       James 30

6-18-13   W 103-100    Spurs           Finals               James 32

5-3-16     W 102-96      @Raptors     Conf semis       Dragic 26

5-5-16     L 96-92         @Raptors     Conf semis       Dragic 20 

*-2005 game vs. Nets was double-overtime; all others single OT.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 04, 2016

G1: Heat 102, @ Toronto 96: Reasons Miami is better, will advance; plus LeBron wants Heat next, Bosh ruled out, new Dolphins SB odds, Mavis Staples, 'Back In My Day,' could've-beens, Marlins odds, your verdict on Heat-Raptors & more

 GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Dolgasmask1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 5. Watch for a brand new blog posting here later this morning. 2) Sorry Dolfans but a Laremy Tunsil-styled Dolphins logo incorporating a bong gas mask is too funny to not pass along. Tunsil's career may outgrow that infamous draft-night photo, but not soon. Example: This FunnyorDie.com spoof skewers Tunsil. (Warning: Rough language). 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Metrics give Heat 1 in 3 series shot vs. Toronto but I like Miami with poll, Kiper/McShay final thoughts on Dolphins draft, your verdict on Fins draft & more. 4) Click here for my latest Back In My Day. Comes late in podcast, around 1:07 mark. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

SHULA: A RENEWED APPRECIATION: A health scare that hospitalized Don Shula this week at age 86 invites us to reflect and renew our appreciation for the great longtime former Dolphins coach. Click on Shula: A Renewed Appreciation to read my latest column in full.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, my latest, previewing the Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory. Curious Pick, Major Gamble, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick.

Bosh out rest of playoffs: Heat and Chris Bosh releaseed this joint statement late this afternoon: "The Miami Heat  and Chris Bosh announce that Chris will not be playing in the remainder of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. The Heat, Chris, the doctors and medical team have been working together throughout this process and will continue to do so to return Chris to playing basketball as soon as possible." No surprise but need to be said given the recent distraction of #BringBoshBack and the NBA Players Association involvement.

LeBron admits he wants Wade, Heat next: Said LeBron James following a Cavs shootaround today, on whether he has thought about facing the Heat in the Eastern finals: "Naturally, of course. That's since I've came back [to Cleveland from Miami]. It'd be great to play against those guys in the postseason. Throughout my whole career, I've always wanted to go against [Dwyane] Wade in a playoff series. We've always talked about it even before we became teammates in '10. It's not been heavy on my mind, but it's crossed my mind throughout my whole career."

Dolphins latest odds: Still no love: No love for Fins in post-draft Super Bowl odds via Bovada today. Miami is 66-1, same as pre-free agency and last in AFC East. Patriots are 7-1 (first overall), Jets 40-1, Bills 50-1. And no Laremy Tunsil among top 10 picks for offensive rookie.

Marlins latest odds: New World Series odds out via Bovada show Marlins the same 50-1 as coming into season despite recent hot streak. One problem? Three favorites to win it all are NL clubs, with Cubs on top at 5-1 and Mets/Nationals (both in Marlins' division) both 10-1. Jose Fernandez is 16-1 for Cy Young (tie, eighth), but Giancarlo Stanton (8 homers) isn't among 14 players listed 20-1 or better for MVP.

G1: HEAT 102, @ TORONTO 96: WE SAW WHY MIAMI IS BETTER TEAM, WILL WIN SERIES: If it's seven games of this, can the heart take it? Miami squandered a late 79-67 lead, went into overtime on Kyle Lowry's desperation half-court 3 at the buzzer, but then prevailed in OT 102-96 last night, fueled by two field goals and a steal by (who else) Dwyane Wade. Reasons Miami is better and will win series: 1) Wade had 24 points and Goran Dragic 26 last night on combined 20-for-41 shooting, seriously outplaying TOR counterparts DeMar DeRozan and Lowry. Lowry, despite the prayer that forced OT, has been awful in the playoffs, shooting 30.6 percent including 3-for-13 last night. That's the worst postseason percentage by any NBA player in a half century, according to Elias Sports Bureau. 2) Miami also hit big with a 52-41 rebounding advantage in Game 1 led by Hassan Whiteside's 17 boards, and that edge should continue. 3) Heat have the perimeter defenders, with Tyler Johnson back and with Rook 1 and Rook 2, to bother the Raptors' game. 4) Erik Spoelstra is a better coach than Dwane Casey. (And by the way, Dwane, our Dwyane is the only one who gets to misspell Dwayne). In sum, a gigantic road win to open the series entering Game 2 Thursday night back in Toronto. ..... Original post: Both teams are coming off watershed series. Toronto is past the first round of the playoffs for only the second time in 21 franchise seasons and the first since 2001. Miami (after missing the playoffs altogether last year) just won its first postseason series since 2006 not involving a man named LeBron James. So the
Heatraptorsquestion now: Who isn't satisfied? Who is hungrier for more? This is the closest of the four conference semifinal series in terms of betting odds and G1the toughest call entering Game 1 tonight at 8 in Toronto. The Raptors understandably are favored, with the better season record, a 3-1 series edge and home-court advantage. But you get the feeling -- by which I mean I get the feeling -- the Raptors are closer to happy-just-to-be-here mode, whereas the Heat are hell-bent-driven for an Eastern finals showdown with LeBron and the Cavs. More pragmatically, I think Miami is a bit deeper, has a tad more offensive pop and enjoys the clear edge in playoff experience. Certainly the Heat come in off a more comfortable Game 7 showing in the last series. Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan may get his points -- he scored 30, 33 and 38 in the Raptors' three season wins over Miami -- but fellow guard Kyle Lowery is lessened by a tender elbow, which could hurt Toronto. The Heat have more go-to options offensively, and one of them, Hassan Whiteside, may be poised for a big series in a favorable matchup if he can stay out of foul trouble. Other key questions: Will we see the vintage Dwyane Wade of old, or the old Wade. Can Goran Dragic consistently be the difference-maker who poured in 25 points in Game 7? Might Joe Johnson be the force he was in helping Brooklyn eliminate Toronto two years ago? Lots of compelling storylines here -- even with Chris Bosh still out and not facing his longtime former team. Miami will need to at least split these two games in Toronto to win the right to come home feeling good about its chances. And tonight might be the night to cherry-pick that road win, with Toronto on a 1-8 in playoff series openers. My series pick: Heat in 6. (Click on Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals for latest column).

1 EX-DOLPHIN. 1 FORMER HEAT PLAYER (THOUGH BOTH BARELY) MAKE LIST YOU DON'T WANT TO BE ON: ESPN unveils a dubious Top 25 all-time athletes in unfulfilled potential -- the "Could-Have-Beens." Click here for the full list. Two with South Florida ties (albeit brief ones) make it. At No. 14 is running back Lawrence Phillips, who appeared in two Dolphins games in 1997, rushing 18 times for 44 yards. And at No. 1 is center Greg Oden, who played in 23 Heat games in 2013-14, averaging 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.

MAVIS STAPLES, AMERICAN TREASURE, PERFORMS TONIGHT IN BROWARD: Mavis Staples performs tonight/Wednesday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, opening for venerable gospel legends The Blind Boys of Alabama. They could as well have been the opening act for her, such is her stature in music and the phenomenal career renaissance she is enjoying at age 76. I am an unabashed admirer and fan who has followed her career since first becoming familiar with her family group the Staple Singers in the '70s. In fact I write a Twitter fan site for her; click on MavisstaplesMavis_Staples for my tribute site, and on MavisStaples for her official site. I first knew of Mavis as the lead singer for the family group that enjoyed several years of chart popularity with songs such as "I'll Take You There," "Respect Yourself" and "If You're Ready." The music intrigued me partly because I couldn't easily categorize it. It was gospel-flavored pop but with also parts R&B (what they used to call soul music) and funk. There was a grit to it. To my ears, the Detroit sound of Motown always seemed like music recorded in an air-conditioned studio, while the less-polished sound of Memphis and Stax Records (the Staples' label) seemed as if it were recorded in a club, with sweat involved. I only learned later that the Staple Singers were first a gospel group singing in Chicago churches and producing standards such as "Uncloudy Day," long before the mainstream success. The group also was intimately involved in the civil rights movement; group leader Roebuck "Pops" Staples and Martin Luther King were close friends. Pops famously told his family, "If he [King] can preach it, we can sing it," and the result were civil-rights anthems such as "Freedom Highway." The video below is a funk-filled, bass-line-driven song about segregationist days called "Down In Mississippi." Mavis Staples is living history. The decades of diverse music -- from gospel roots to socially conscious music to mainstream success -- led the Staple Singers to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. The Staple Singers were finished by the mid-'80s, Pops passed away in 2000. But Mavis was far from done. She was rediscovered by Prince, a fan, and appeared prominently on his 1990 album, Graffiti Bridge. More recently she won a 2011 Grammy for Best Americana Recording with a solo album, You Are Not Alone, produced by Jeff Tweedy of the group Wilco. He also produced her well-received 2013 followup album, One True Vine. A new album, Livin' On a High Note, features performances by Nick Cave, Neko Case and others. A new documentary film, "Mavis!" premiered Feb. 29 on HBO. She will open on tour for Bob Dylan starting in June. Crossing genres and appealing to all audiences, young and old, has marked her career resurgence. She has played jazz fests and folk festivals, appealing to all. Just last week, she played at the youth-skewed Coachella festival, and spoke a moving tribute to Prince, whom she called "my son." Mavis Staples' concerts are intimate, moving and uplifting. She aims to spread joy, and succeeds. If you have not discovered her music, it isn't too late. If you have never seen her live in concert, do treat yourself Wednesday night.

Click on Broward Center for ticket information about Mavis' Wednesday, May 4 show with The Blind Boys of Alabama.

 

Poll result: Heat will win Raptors series, say 73 percent: We asked the likelihold Miami would advance past Toronto in the series starting tonight and it was 28.8 percent voting 60%-plus, 44.6% voting 50-59%, 15.1% voting 40-49% and 11.5% voting 40% or less. That's 73.4% voting over 50% likelihood vs. 26.6% under. 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

April 28, 2016

The Chris Bosh Conundrum: Who's right? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat on brink of playoff elimination, Miami Herald NFL Mock Draft (with Dolphins' surprise at 13) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Meshow1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 28. Thanks again to ESPN Radio for re-branding their national show to better reflect my impact every Tuesday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hornets tie Heat series 2-2 with will-Miami-advance poll, court favors Dolphins in Brady ruling, how Panthers fans should feel after elimination, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack, the latest, off last night's Game 5 loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on Miami's best-case scenario for its No. 1 draft pick. Calling Jaromir Jagr, on Panthers' need for Jagr to end his playoff goals as it entered Game 6.

BoshTHE CHRIS BOSH CONUNDRUM: WHO'S RIGHT?: A good deal of my column off last night's Heat Game 5 home loss (click here) is on sidelined Chris Bosh foisting himself suddenly into playoffs with his (and his wife's) #BringBoshBack social-media effort that has caught Heat management off guard. Bottom line: Bosh, out since Feb. 9 with a recurrence of his blood clot issues, has been cleared to play by a personal doctor and says he is ready now, while the club doctors have not yet cleared him. Curious what Heat fans think. Hence, this poll! Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results. Vote soon, though. We'll call a winner in a couple of hours as we pivot to a new blogpost on tonight's NFL Draft.

G5: CHARLOTTE 90, HEAT 88: CRUCIAL HOME LOSS HAS MIAMI DOWN 3-2, FACING ELIMINATION: Dwyane Wade's 25 points weren't enough Wednesday night in a 90-88 Heat home loss -- the third straight Miami loss in this first-round series. Charlotte regained its 3-point touch with a dozen 3's including the go-ahead points by Courtney Lee with 25 second left. Click on Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack for my column from last night's game. ..... Original post: With both teams 2-0 at home in this series, the onus is on Miami tonight at 8 to again protect its home court by the bay. Clearly, the loser of this game will be in trouble in the series with Game 6 back up in Charlotte. Miami has shot 58 percent in two home wins vs. only 36 percent in two road Heathornetslosses. The Hornets are expected to have Nic Batum back available tonight from an ankle sprain but otherwise may be at a disadvantage, at least historically. The G5Heat are 13-2 in their past 15 playoff home games, the only losses both to San Antonio in the 2014 Finals. And Miami is on a 19-2 run vs. Charlotte in the 305. The Hornets have not won a road playoff game, anywhere, since 2002, losing nine in a row in the meantime. For those streaks to continue Miami will need much better defense in the paint tonight against the slashing runs of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, who combined for 55 points in Game 4. Hassan Whiteside needs to raise his game. Also expect a bounce-back night from Dwyane Wade. Watch out, though, if Charlotte finds its touch on 3-point shots. Hornets were fourth in league in 3's during the season but have clanked in only 23.9 percent in the first round. Fouls also may be a factor tonight. CHA has taken 122 free throws to MIA's 94 through four games. "We've probably fouled more in these four games than we have in the last four weeks," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "Give them credit. They're aggressive." Meantime the post-LeBron, no-Bosh Heat still have some drawing power as a TV attraction, apparently. NBA TV's coverage of Heat-Hornets Game 4 drew 662,000 viewers, the network's most-seen playoff telecast since 2014. Its four-game playoffs average this month is 471,000 viewers.

25TH ANNUAL OFFICIAL MIAMI HERALD MOCK DRAFT: SURPRISE! DOLPHINS SELECT HOUSTON CB WILLIAM JACKSON IN FIRST ROUND: Our 2016 NFL Mock Draft is now online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions, including Super Bonus Draft Facts as always. Click on Mockin' It '16 to read the entire first-round mock draft it in full. We cut to the chase here with our synopsis on Miami's pick:

William jackson13. MIAMI DOLPHINS: WILLIAM JACKSON, CB, HOUSTON — I sort of doubt Miami will stay at 13. I can see them trying to trade up into the 7-8 range to select the RB Ezekiel Elliott — a bold move of the headline-grabbing type that is part of the Mike Tannenbaum canon. But I also can see them anticlimactically trading down because, after Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves no DB is worth this high a pick and likely could be gotten lower. That includes Jackson (pictured) or Ohio State’s Eli Apple, both of whom might be labeled a “reach” taken this high. If the Fins do stay at 13, though — and assuming Elliott, Myles Jack and Hargreaves are all off the board – then grabbing the best available corner here would make sense as an urgent need. Apple may well be rated slightly higher by Miami and might be a safer mock pick for me here. But Jackson is older, more mature and more ready now than the riskier Apple. Jackson looks a safer bet for the Dolphins, and Miami cannot afford a first-round misfire.

GREG COTE'S 2016 NFL DRAFT VIDEO: Today I am holed up hammering out my 25th annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft. The first-round prognostications should be online this afternoon before shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Meantime click below (or on Mock 'n Roll) for my NFL Draft preview video:

 
TWO THOUGHTS ON DOLPHINS' VETERAN MINICAMP: Today is Day 2 of Miami's three-day voluntary veterans minicamp, and the news thus far is that four defensive players -- Reshad Jones, ReshadjonesNdamukong Suh, Mario Williams and Koa Misi --were absent from Day 1 practice. It was known Williams (personal issues) and Misi (illness) would be missing, but the absences of Jones (pictured) and Suh -- arguably the defense's two best players -- were unexcused and notable. Two thoughts: 1) It's a VOLUNTARY minicamp. And it's APRIL. You can't call something voluntary and then be mad not everyone volunteers. Jones is pouting and holding his breath for a new contract. Suh has done pretty well for himself preparing for seasons how he sees fit. If they're still AWOL when mandatory minicamps begin in June, then we have an issue. 2) There is, however, something noble in the concept of "leading by example." Jones is the highest-paid strong safety in the NFL at $28 million over four years, yet wants more. Suh is making a whopping $114 million over six years. For that kind of money, though it isn't mandatory, it sure would be nice if they "volunteered" to be with their teammates.   
 
Poll result: Optimism for Heat advance, but also doubts: We asked what you think is the likelihood the Miami Heat (series tied 2-2 entering tonight) will advance past the Charlotte Hornets in the first round, and results were wildly mixed. A plurality of 25.6 percent said 80% or better, 17.4% said 70-79% and 20.3% said 60-69%. But more than one-third of all voters said only 50-59% (19.8%) or less than 50% (16.9%).
 
Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

April 12, 2016

Micky Arison in the crosshairs on Carnival cruises to Cuba: New poll. Vote now!; plus Ronda Rousey loves Dolphins, Heat and Panthers parlay similar blueprint to playoffs, Cats' Stanley Cup odds, Donald Trump porn parody & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 12. Ronda Rousey praises Dolphins. Click here for the video. 2) Thanks to all the listeners, viewers and Tweeters who liked our "Back In My Day" on today's LeBatard Show. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, The List (Dolphins), your verdicts on LeBron/Tiger & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

Panthers' Stanley Cups odds: Out today via Bovada, Florida is tied for eighth at 16-1 odds, better than opponent Islanders' 25-1. Capitals are favorites at 4-1, followed by a knot of five teams at 8-1. Cats Roberto Luongo (30-1) and Jaromir Jagr (35-1) are team's most plausible betting longshots for playoffs MVP. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint, the latest, on two teams' similar philosophy. Now the Proving Begins, as Panthers end regular season and face playoffs. Out Of Excusesoff Marlins Opening Night.

HEAT OWNER ARISON IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF CARNIVAL, CUBA AND POLITICS: Micky Arison's net worth is $7.7 billion, although it may have risen to $8 billion while you were reading this sentence. He is chairman of Doral-based Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest. He also is principle owner of the Miami Heat. As such, his two primary interests and business ventures put Arisonhim in the crosshairs of the latest news regarding his cruiseships, Cuba and politics. We first tackled this subject in the blog last July when Carnival first won Carnivalapproval to begin cruises to Cuba. For Arison (pictured) and Carnival it could be great for business. But many South Florida Cubans who fled that island's Castro tyranny (and many of those are Heat fans) are angry over normalized U.S.-Cuba relations and also about Carnival ships docking there. We ran a poll here last July asking if Carnival planning trips to Cuba negatively impacts how you view Arison, and it was 79.9 percent "no" vs. only 16.8% "yes" and 3.3% "undecided. But I wonder if the view has changed now that the Carnival-Cuba startup is soon -- first ships are set to head south in May -- and now that we know this disturbing detail: the still-oppressive Cuban government controls what passengers may be aboard the cruiseships, and they do not include Cuban-born people, which of course includes Cuban exiles living in and around Miami. Carnival has asked the Cuban government to relent on that policy, but, if Carnival wishes to do business in Cuba, it has no choice but to agree to that one huge restriction, even though it is plain discrimination, of course. Imagine Carnival traveling to a country that insisted only white people be aboard the ship? Or banned Muslims? As I wrote last July, I am in favor of normalized U.S.-Cuba relations, which I think ultimately will benefit the Cuban economy and people. But clearly it is wrong for the Cuban government to not allow folks born in Cuba and exiles in Miami to be aboard those Carnival ships, as we discussed on yesterday's Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Dan was particularly passionate on the topic. And there protesters outside Carnival headquarters Tuesday. So, nine months after our first poll, let's repeat the question and compare the vote. Check back often to monitor evolving results.

TWO TEAMS, SIMILAR BLUEPRINT AS HEAT, PANTHERS FORGE PLAYOFF PATH: [Panthers Sasha Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, pictured left, and the Heat's Justise Winslow and Dwyane Wade, right, personify each team's winning blend of experience and youth -- the blueprint that carries each to the playoffs. Click on Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint for the online version of the my latest column] Appreciate the rarity of this first. The Miami Heat and Florida Panthers are about to both enter the playoffs in the same season for only the fifth time since 1993, when hockey joined basketball down here. And South Florida is one of only five markets to have both its teams reach the 2016 postseason, along with Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and Oakland/San Jose. Even more notable is the similar blueprint the Heat and Panthers have shared to find success, with rosters that blend wise and wizened veterans and raw youth. For the Heat it’s a blueprint that is very different from the company norm, showcasing an unusual reliance on young players by a franchise that, from Pat Barkov Wade WinslowRiley on down, Jagrhas never quite trusted youth. For the Cats it’s a blueprint taken to extremes, bookended by 44-year-old leading scorer Jaromir Jagr and by 10 players not even born when Jagr first entered the NHL, such as rising stars Sasha Barkov, 20, and Aaron Ekblad, 19. Both teams’ uncommonly wide gulf between its oldest and youngest players was reflected perfectly Monday in the Panthers’ dressing room following a midday practice. Nick Bjugstad, the Cats center, is 23 but looks even younger. His hand kept drifting absent-mindedly to his chin and rubbing what was there, which isn’t much. He is trying, the poor kid. The NHL postseason is upon us, the fight for the Stanley Cup beginning, and in hockey, the playoff beard is a near-sacred tradition. A wisp of blond whiskers trying bravely to be a goatee and an even wispier sprout on his alabaster cheeks is all Bjugstad can claim for now. "I keep playing with it – it’s more than I’ve ever had!' he is saying after Monday’s midday practice. "It is what it is. But it’s kind of embarrassing." Elsewhere around the dressing room manly playoff beards are in full bloom. It looks like a casting call for a movie about lumberjacks. A media guy trying to be kind tells Bjugstad most of the full-bearded guys probably started growing their facial hair at least a month ago. "So did I," Nick had to admit. The beard thing is the perfect reflection of what the Panthers see when they look in the mirror: A blend of age and youth, of over-35 veterans like Jagr, Roberto Luongo, Brian Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Willie Mitchell, offset by what is perhaps hockey’s premier core of players under 25. It was a risk that relies on aging players still having enough prime left and youthful guys proving ready. It was a chemistry experiment that has worked but might have blown up in the lab. "Our older guys have been so willing," as general manager Dale Tallon told me Monday. "It could have been a disaster." From the 45-minute jaunt from Sunrise down to Miami, from ice to hardwood, Heat veterans like Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and (even sidelined) Chris Bosh similarly mentor a youthful core led by rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, by second-year man Tyler Johnson and by Hassan Whiteside, who is 26 but still learning. "I’m just passing down knowledge," Wade describes the role that doesn’t show up on stat sheets. "All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped." It is a good time to be a fan of both teams, with each franchise locked in win-now mode but also boasting a blossoming young core that suggests a bridge to a promising future beyond the Hall of Fame-bound old guard led by Jagr and Wade. Both teams share justifiably high playoff hopes as the Panthers face the New York Islanders in the first round with Game 1 here Thursday night, while the Heat enter their final two regular-season games still unsure of their seeding, who’ll they’ll face or whether they’ll have home-court advantage. You’d think the Heat might be in happy-to-be-here mode, after missing the playoffs last year and with Bosh out. Yet there is the sense of a wide-open Eastern Conference, and of a real chance to reach the East finals, maybe head-to-head vs. old friend LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. You’d think the Panthers might really be in happy-to-be here mode. They last made the playoffs in 2012 and last won a playoff series in Year of the Rat 1996. Tallon and coach Gerard Gallant both admitted Monday they did not expect to win a division title this year. But hockey’s Eastern Conference also is wide open. An ESPN experts panel by a 9-0 vote picked the Panthers to advance past the Islanders. Washington was the only East team with an appreciably better record than Florida this season, but the Cats were 2-1 against the Capitals, outscoring them 10-5. The idea of a championship run by either the Panthers or especially the Heat is fanciful and not being discussed much in any sober conversation, but, in only their fifth playoffs at the same time, the idea of either team or both reaching their conference finals is tantalizingly plausible. And who knows? If that happens, by then, Nick Bjugstad’s patchwork of whiskers might even pass for a decent beard.

ThedonaldPERFECT! A DONALD TRUMP PORN PARODY!: How great and absolutely fantastic and terrific is this!? I'm so happy I feel like building a giant wall! Just when you think Larry Flynt might be dead, the Hustler impresario rises to produce something fun, like "The Donald," his new Donald Trump "porn parody" video. The photo at right surely whets your appetite and suggests the cinematic gravitas at play here. Click on Trump Porn Parody to read more. The video goes on sale to the public today/Tuesday, available to everyone including Muslims and Mexicans. Trump is the perfect target. I mean, who is more cocksure? Don't worry. Cocksure is a real word, not a dirty word, and describes Trump quite spot-on.

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March 26, 2016

Hurricanes out in Sweet 16: How successful was season? Poll. Vote now!; plus my updated bracket, Serena Williams, Miami Open tennis vs. Doral golf poll, LeBron's weird dream, McShay's latest Fins mock, your Brightest Future winner (tight!) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 26. Did you make it a good Good Friday, Christians? 2) Happy 69th birthday today to Elton John, one of my musical and cultural heroes. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bright Futures 25&U poll, Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena backs Miami Open, Dolphins on the cheap, your Obama-Cuba verdict, Melania Trump ad & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Serena and the Miami Open: The Miami Open on Key Biscayne helped raise Serena Williams, and vice versa. That symbiosis is the theme of my latest column. Click on Serena and the Miami Open to read it. 

End of the bracket for me: SliceMiami.com was down to its Final Four in the Media bracket and I made it, but lost in my semifinal to the 'Gotz Army of my 790 The Ticket/ESPN Radio colleague, Stugotz. He's now in the Media final and crushing rival station WQAM's Marc Hochman. Oh my. Juggernaut.

McShay's mock picks for Dolphins, UM: ESPN's Todd McShay's mock draft 4.0 has Fins picking Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott 13th overall and Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah in second round, 42nd overall. Only Miami Hurricane in the first two rounds: CB Artie Burns, 45th overall to Rams.

MARCH MADNESS: RUN IS DONE FOR HURRICANES; UM ELIMINATED IN SWEET 16: Miami was swamped 92-69 by Villanova in the NCAA Sweet 16 in Louisville. That's makes it three Canessweet16Sweet 16s for UM but still no Elite Eight. Sheldon McClellan did his part with 26 points tonight but got too little help. The story, though, was Miami not containing a really effective 'Nova attack. Villanova shot 62.7 percent from the field including 10-for-15 on 3's, plus 18 of 19 on free throws. Seems like they never missed. I'd foreseen it in my preview here, writing, "Mostly the matchup figures as how the Canes' defense fares in limiting 'Nova's big-time offense, which has averaged 82 points over the past month and has shot 58.6 percent so far in the NCAAs." Villanova, the nation's No. 1-ranked team for three weeks in February, was a four-point favorite and showed why. I liked Miami in an upset, but I guess that was homer parochial thinking. They needed another lights-out performance from guard Angel Rodriguez and didn't get it. Bottom line? Miami is not Elite yet, literally or figuratively. But Jim Larranaga is getting them closer. Progress. Overall a good season that did Miami proud. Agree? Take a dip in our poll.

NCAA Bracketeering, updated: Friday--My teams were 1-3, meaning 1-1 with teams still alive (North Carolina advanced) and two others previously eliminated. Overall--I'm 37-19 thus far in men's NCAA Tournament games. The bad news? I have only two teams still alive in the Elite Eight. The good news? They include Kansas, my pick to win it all. Cinderella Meter--28.6% (16 of 56 games have been upsets so far based on seeding). Today--I very much need Kansas to  beat Villanova. I have no dog left in the Oklahoma-Oregon hunt.

ON LEBRON'S 'DREAM TEAM,' STATE OF HEAT: 1) LeBron James said this week he would "take a pay cut" to play on the same team with close friends Dwyane Wade (once Lebrondreamingmore), Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Said James: "I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together. At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP. I would actually take a pay cut to do that." Quick thought: Given the age and career arc of each, is 'Bron talking about an Old-Timers League? 2) The Heat's 112-88 loss to San Antonio Wednesday night was a reality check and a reminder of the distance between Miami and the best teams in the NBA. Here is another: Miami is now 4-9 this season against the five teams with clearly better records: Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Toronto. It's 2-1 vs. the Cavaliers, 2-8 vs. the other four.

Doral golf MiamiopenMIAMI OPEN TENNIS VS. WGC DORAL GOLF: The World Golf Championship event at Doral just ended, continuing the PGA Tour's 53-year run in South Florida. Now the Miami Open tennis tournament is underway on Key Biscayne -- Serena Williams won last evening in the first marquee match -- continuing that event's more than 30-year history in South Florida. But are prestigious tournaments right below being one of the sport's four majors. But both annual local sports institutions are in jeopardy. Doral could lose the greatest men's golfers in the world over politics, because the PGA Tour may distance itself from Donald Trump-owned properties. Key Biscayne could lose the best men's and women's tennis players in the world over legalities, related to a court case that will determine whether needed facility improvements are permitted. My question here: Which of these two major annual events is most important to you? I hope the answer for many of you is "both!" But which would you most hope stays where it is if you could choose only one? Take a dip in our poll and be heard!

JosePOLL RESULT: BRIGHTEST FUTURE? J'S HAVE IT AS JOSE, JUSTISE, JARVIS DOMINATE VOTE: We asked which of South Florida's 25-and-under sports stars has the brightest future, and gave you 14 choices and three votes. The clear overall top three in a tight race: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez (21.9 percent), Heat forward Justise Winslow (20.3%) and Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (19.2%). Jose is pictured tipping his cap to thank you for the vote. Rounding out the top five were Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker with 9.3% and Heat guard Josh Richardson at 8.7%, followed by the top-ranking Florida Panther, Sasha Barkov, with 7.7%. Popular poll. Thanks to all who weighed in.

BOSH'S NEW PUBLIC-SERVICE AD: Sidelined Heat star Chris Bosh is featured (along with Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Becky Hammon) in a new LeanIn.org video for its public-awareness campaign in support of gender equality. Here it is:

 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote